Novelist, Memorist, Children’s book author 

Da Chen grew up in the deep south of China, running barefoot in muddy fields and riding the backs of water buffaloes. In his tiny Fujian village, water was fetched from an ancient well swimming with snakes, and the only lights that burned in most households were hissing kerosene lanterns. As the grandson of a disgraced landowner, he was a victim of communist political persecution and hollowing poverty during the Cultural Revolution. His family was beaten, his father thrown in reform camp, and young Chen, at the age of nine, was threatened with imprisonment.

Unfailing family love helped him survive in a dysfunctional society and he found unexpected love and friendship with four other hoodlum outcasts, but dreams made him soar above the poverty and persecution. His first encounter with a Christian woman, a Baptist professor, was life changing. She taught him English and opened the possibility of another world. He excelled in college at Beijing Languages and Culture University, and stayed on as a professor of English after graduating top in his class.

Da arrived in America at the age of 23 with $30 in his pocket, a bamboo flute, and a heart filled with hope. He attended Columbia University School of Law on a full scholarship, and upon graduating, worked for the Wall Street investment banking firm of Rothschilds, Inc.

His forthcoming novel, MY LAST EMPRESS, will be published in the fall 2012 and is a sweeping story of passion and obsession, set against the upheavals of nineteenth-century imperial China.

COLORS OF THE MOUNTAIN, his first memoir, was compared to Angela’s Ashes and was the object of an intense bidding war among five top New York publishing houses.   It went on to become a New York Times bestseller and published in six other languages.   

SOUNDS OF THE RIVER, the sequel to his first memoir, was published to rave international reviews. Los Angeles Times says, “Chinese literature has brought to these shores many new and interesting voices—the haunting lyricism of Ha Jin, the harsh worldview of Anchee Min, the righteous indignation of Adeline Yen Mah. Da Chen’s voice comes from the soil of China…his exuberance for life and its possibilities set him apart from others in the genre.” USA Today states that “Da Chen’s latest book confirms that he is an extraordinary individual.”

Da’s first fiction for young readers, WANDERING WARRIOR, by Random House Children’s Books, was described by USA Today as “China’s answer to [Harry] Potter.” The movie rights were optioned by Warner Brothers.

His first adult fiction, BROTHERS, was published by Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, in September 2006, receiving immediate and enthusiastic acclaim.

“Chen has made his public appearances into performance art.”

—The Washington Post


Not just once but A REPEAT Common Reader selection!

  • 2007, North Carolina State University — Colors of the Mountain by Da Chen
  • 2008, North Carolina State University — Sounds of the River by Da Chen
  • 2008, Oklahoma City University — Colors of the Mountain by Da Chen
  • 2009, Oklahoma City University — Sounds of the River by Da Chen
  • 2008, Belmont Abbey — Colors of the Mountain by Da Chen
  • 2009, Belmont Abbey — Colors of the Mountain by Da Chen


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